About the Program in Judaic Studies

Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity

Lawrence Wills (Th.D., Harvard Divinity School) taught at Harvard Divinity School, Episcopal Divinity School, and at Wesleyan University before coming to Brown. Among his books are The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World and Not God’s People: Insiders and Outsiders in the Biblical World. He is co-editor of the Jewish Annotated Apocrypha (in progress) and is on the editorial board of Journal of Biblical Literature.

Biblical Studies

Saul M. Olyan (Ph.D., Harvard University) focuses his research and teaching on the history, literature, and religion of ancient Israel and the history of biblical interpretation. In recent years, textual representations of ritual and ritual’s social dimensions have been abiding interests of his. He has written on aspects of death and the afterlife, social inequality, sexuality, ritual violence, purity and impurity, and honor and shame, among other subjects. Currently, he is writing a book on friendship in the Hebrew Bible. He teaches courses on topics such as death and afterlife in the biblical tradition, friendship in the ancient world, the history of biblical interpretation, problems in Israelite history, problems in Israelite religion, biblical literature of the exile, and disability in antiquity as well as various doctoral seminars on biblical books that require an advanced knowledge of Hebrew, on Aramaic language and texts, and on Ugaritic language and texts.

Early Modern Jewish History

Adam Teller (Ph.D., Hebrew University) specializes in the history of the Jews in eastern Europe, with a particular focus on the ways in which they came to form an integral part of society in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the tensions this process aroused. He has examined this question from a variety of angles, including books on living conditions in the Jewish quarter in seventeenth century Poznan and on the role played by the Jews in the magnate economy of eighteenth century Lithuania (both published in Hebrew), as well as a series of articles on the Polish-Lithuanian rabbinate and its relationship with the Crown and noble authorities.

Hebrew Language

Ruth Adler Ben Yehuda (M.A., Hebrew University) specializes in the history of the Hebrew language and teaches all Hebrew language courses covering the first two and one half years of study. She has been an active member of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew (NAPH), and the Hebrew Board of the National Middle East Language Resource Center, which was initiated by the U.S. Department of Education.  She also regularly presents training workshops for instructors of Hebrew as a second language in the U.S. and in Israel. Her research interests include Hebrew language pedagogy, language learning and technology, language and culture. She is the author of “Daily Life in Israel- Listening and Viewing Comprehension” (Magnes / Hebrew University, 2011).

Jewish Literature and Israel Studies

David C. Jacobson  (Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles) conducts research in the fields of Jewish Literature and Israel Studies. He is the author of Modern Midrash: The Retelling of Traditional Jewish Narratives by Twentieth-Century Hebrew Writers; Does David Still Play Before You? Israeli Poetry and the Bible;  Creator, Are You Listening? Israeli Poets on God and Prayer; and Beyond Political Messianism: the Poetry of Second-Generation Religious Zionist Settlers. He is co-editor (with Kamal Abdel-Malek) of Israeli and Palestinian Identities in History and Literature and co-editor (with William Cutter) of History and Literature: New Readings of Jewish Texts in Honor of Arnold J. Band. He is currently writing a book on the resurgence of interest in rabbinic legends in contemporary Israeli culture.  His courses include: Holocaust Literature; The Bible as Literature; The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Contested Narratives; God and Poetry; Believers, Agnostics, and Atheists in Contemporary Fiction; and Issues in Contemporary Israeli Society, Politics, and Culture in Hebrew.

Jewish Thought

Paul E. Nahme (Ph.D., University of Toronto) is the Dorot Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University. He has studied Rabbinic Literature and Jewish Law at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He taught previously at the University of Kansas and was formerly a fellow at the NYU School of Law and Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University. His research interests focus mostly on modern Jewish philosophy and Rabbinic thought, intellectual history, religion, ethics, and politics, and the philosophy and hermeneutics of law. His current book project examines the philosophy of Hermann Cohen in the context of late 19th century Wilhelmine Germany and interrogates Cohen’s response to the philosophical problem of secularity for German-Jews living in a Protestant state.

Modern European Jewish History

Mary Gluck (Ph.D., Columbia University) is a cultural and intellectual historian of Central Europe with a special interest in the Jews of the Habsburg Monarchy.  She teaches courses in modern European intellectual history, the Fin de Siècle, modernism, Parisian urbanism, Central European Jewish modernism, and the cultural function of Jewish humor.  Her research focuses on the intersections between aesthetics, politics and popular culture, as well as on the social and cultural aspects of Jewish assimilation.  She is the author of George Lukács and His Generation, which explores Lukács’ pre-Marxist career in Budapest.  She has also written on Popular Bohemia: Modernism and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris, which traces the popular roots of aesthetic modernism in bohemian culture.  Her most recent book, The Invisible Jewish Budapest: The Genesis of a Metropolitan Culture at the Fin de Siècle explores Jewish commercial entertainment and popular culture in the Dual Monarchy.   

Maud S. Mandel  (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1998; A.M., University of Michigan, 1993; B.A. Oberlin College, 1989) is Dean of the College and Professor of History and Judaic Studies.  Her monograph, In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in Twentieth Century France, was published by Duke University Press in 2003. Her book, Muslims and Jews in France: History of a Conflict, appeared with Princeton University Press in January 2014 and has been awarded fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Philosophical Society. Her most recent article, "Simone Weil and Thinking Jewish Modernity after the Holocaust” will appear in the volume Thinking Jewish Modernity in 2014. She teaches courses on many aspects of modern Jewish history, including history of the Holocaust, Zionism and the birth of the state of Israel, and antisemitism.

Rabbinics and Early Judaism

Michael Satlow (Ph.D., Jewish Theological Seminary) has written extensively on issues of gender, sexuality, and marriage among Jews in antiquity (ca. 500 BCE - 500 CE) among other topics. His most recent book, Creating Judaism: History, History, Tradition, Practice, is broader in scope, developing a model for understanding “Judaism” as a religion. His active research projects include a study of popular Jewish piety in antiquity; a synthetic history of Jews during the Second Temple period (based on a podcast now in development); the continuation of an internet database of inscriptions from Israel/Palestine; and a study of Jewish calendars in early America. 

Yiddish Culture and Israeli Society

Rachel Rojanski is Visiting  Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at Brown University. Her specialized field of research is the political and cultural history of the East European Jewish immigrants in the United States and Israel from the late 19th century to the present. Her publications include:  Conflicting Identities: Labor  Zionism in North America 1905-1931(Hebrew, Ben-Gurion University Press,2004) and a completed book manuscript: "A Jewish Culture in the Land of Hebrew: Yiddish in Israel 1948-2008, as well as numerous articles on Jewish Socialism, the Yiddish press, and Jewish gender. Before coming to Brown she was an associate Professor at the University of Haifa, and President of the National Authority for Yiddish in Israel. She also publishes translations from Yiddish and articles on Israeli culture in the Israeli daily press.